Rail freight

09.08.18

Create Railway Customs Areas to avoid congestion post-Brexit, RDG says

In order to ensure smooth and efficient rail freight movement after Brexit, the rail industry is proposing the creation of Railway Customs Areas (RCAs) at freight terminals which would help cut down on congestion.

According to a report, RCAs would avoid the need for a single border checkpoint and would remove the prospect of congestion on the rail network in Kent, ensuring that the £2bn contribution from the sector continues to be delivered each year.

At present, freight inside the European Union operates without the need for customs declarations, but there is a site at either side of the Channel Tunnel for safety and security inspections. After Brexit, however, businesses are concerned about delays and lost revenue from customs checks.

These fears could be allayed by the creation of RCAs, which would ensure imports reach their destination without delay alongside investment from the public and private sectors to provide suitable customs security measures at existing freight terminals.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said this is crucial for manufacturing supply chains as well as drink imports; for example, car assembly parts are currently moved by rail to terminals in the Midlands and in the north west, while French bottled water is imported to Daventry.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, commented: “As we leave the European Union, the rail industry is united in wanting to secure imports through the Channel Tunnel and provide new opportunities for British businesses.

“Our proposals to create customs facilities at freight terminals support and complement the work ongoing in government for customs controls post-Brexit and will prevent unnecessary congestion on the railway and clear the way for smooth trade with our partners in Europe.”

This week’s calls follow a recent survey of exporting or importing firms by the British Chambers of Commerce and the Port of Dover, which found that 29% of businesses think the impact of delays at ports will affect them— while a third claimed they are unprepared for new customs arrangements.

RDG has promised to work with government to safeguard a smooth rail freight movement after the country leaves the EU next year, finding a solution that is “financially sustainable” and which provides “opportunities for business across the country.”

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